" some beers are fermented using coriander! That is a little hidden secret fo those of us that despise that particular herb- and explains why some beers just dont sit right with me" - I love this. For it's the truth.
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Covent Garden, London
Cuisine a la biere is a tradition of using beer as a marinade, sauce or as a flavouring. The variety of Belgia... show more
Cuisine a la biere is a tradition of using beer as a marinade, sauce or as a flavouring. The variety of Belgian beers, which are so distinctive in taste and character, lend themselves perfectly to this concept of cooking.
Brewing in Belgium dates back to those happy go lucky days when the Gauls were beating up the Romans. In such times they used to drink an alcoholic cereal concoction called cervoise. Although brewing never really reached its full popularity in the Belgian Lowlands until the 16th century the locals were certainly using beer to cook with well before that time.
Dishes like carbonnade flamande date back to medieval times. Although wine was probably used in cooking until it became unobtainable, beer, with its very earthy taste, lent itself very well to the stewing of beef. It also proved a better tenderiser than wine. Most of the ancient Belgian dishes were the result of little acciden show less
80 reviews of Belgo Centraal in English
I love this place. I’ve tried a few things on the menu but you cant beat mussels, chips and a beer. The beer selection is ace, so much choice and you’re unlikely to go wrong if you choose one of Chimay, Duvel or De Koninck. To be on the safe side, ask the waiter as they are always very helpful for recommendations. The service is good here thanks to them. One last thing, the venue is underground and has a nice canteen style vibe to it.
Staff were really on the ball, we were never left waiting but at the same time no intrusion into conversation. We opted for the express lunch; rotisserie chicken and a half pint of cold cold beer. Both were lovely and complimented each other, it’s good to see somewhere serving chicken on the bone, I like little danger with my meals and there’s nothing more satisfying than rendering a carcass clean of meat amongst gentlemen. The atmosphere and layout is fantastic, with the entrance walkway overlooking the kitchens, flames and smoke dragging you down into the depths of the cellars. Staff don monk uniforms and it gives the impression that you’re invading some cult in the middle of London. But fun and not a strange electrode machine in sight.
A great place for mussels and Belgian beer. They have a huge range of beer, some of which is disgusting though… But every time I eat there, I’m very happy with the food.
Go and enjoy!
Reviewed using iPhone. Get the app
Very good mussels and a vast selection of beers. Great vibes.
The service is fast, but the waiters are sometimes not nice, hinting that you should speed up your choice process.. Other times they are great, though, helping you out and giving good recommendations.
Reviewed using iPhone. Get the app
Belgo Centraal was surprisingly busy for a weekday lunch! After a while, we (me and my girly friends Angharad and Sarah) were guided downstairs to the underground restaurant, and seated at our table. The rumours we true: the waiters are Trapiste Monks (ok, not real ones, but still: mighty cool). I didn’t get a photo of it, but they also had a CAGE OF BEER. You have to see it to believe it.
We chose “light” lunches from their express lunch menu (one main meal plus Cristal beer/house wine/soft drink, £7.95 a head). Angharad was taking it easy with a goat’s cheese salad and a water, Sarah went for the beef carbonnade and a coke, and I chose the spit roast chicken with chilli and ginger sauce, and I had a Cristal (they wouldn’t let me substitute it for a kriek, and I even offered to pay more!!).
We made a valiant effort – Angharad was pleasantly surprised by her salad (that goat’s cheese looks delicious), Sarah used her beef carbonnade as a dipping sauce for chips, and I ate nearly all of my chicken.
It makes me sad that I felt quite disappointed after eating at Belgo Central because I truly wanted to like it. I thought the place was awesome when we went down to the 'dungeon', as someone has called the huge underground beer garden of Belgo. Service was nice, atmosphere was relaxed and funny, it's a place to have a great time, really. But my goat cheese salad was small, didn't have the roast tomatoes announced in the menu, the 'croutons' where 3 small pieces of chewy baguette... don't know, at £9.00 with apple juice plus service, I think it's better to go to Food for Thought nearby.
Also, I wanted to try the mussels, but either you order them with fries (which I wasn't going to eat) or you order a huge amount for more than £11, that it's good for sharing but not for myself. I don't know, they should have the option of ordering them alone, but I guess everybody loves fries...
Considering virtually their sole focus is the moules it has gone from being a great place to eat to just average. It is now unfortunately of a similar standard to Nandos, i.e. One step up from fast food. Unfortuntely at between £50 and £60 for two people with drinks it doesnt fall into the Nandos price bracket. The only thing that raises Belgos above 2 stars for me is the amazing selection of Belgian beers. I usually have the mariniere and its ok, no better than that. I have had better and fresher mussels in numerous other places, sad really as this is all they really do.
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Having been to Belgo's a few years ago and considered it a great place with keenly priced food, I was left feeling decidedly underwhelmed by my latest visit. Very average moules and a pushy attitude from the staff (who had clearly been instructed to put turnover in front of basic courtesy). I might accept this kind of behaviour from a service station or a fast food chain, but not a £30 per head establishment, I'm afraid.
I was treated to quite the introduction at Belgo's recently. I was invited to a tasting for their Oktober Fest 2010 menu, 3 courses each with a specially selected Belgian beer to go with it- for £33.
Great concept, perhaps a bit too ambitious to ask us to try all 3 options for each of the 3 courses though. I hear you counting up those beers... it was one between two with another before it all kicked off and tasters aftwards (it's like a math riddle isn't it?). Basically I had 5 1/2 beers in the end, but I know some others did better than I!
So what can you expect from the menu?
A choice of starters:
Parsnip and ginger soup served with Juniper Pilsner
Moules mariniere served with Belgo Witbier
Champagne, duck and truffle terrine served with De Koninck Blonde
I found it hard to choose a favorite here, all of them struck me in a different way, well balanced flavours and great accompaniments of the beer variety. If pushed I think I would choose the terrine as a narrow winner.
Beef carbonnade served with Witcap Stimulo
Mushroom Bouchee served with Palm Amber
Moules Portugaise served with Bruges Zot Blonde
The beef was a little too sweet for me, but hearty and very filling. The muscles have roast chorizo in them, which was too strong for me (I'm not very good with very meaty flavours) so my winner was the tasty and well executed bouchee.
Poached peer served with Floris Apple
Belgian chocolate pudding served with Westmalle Double
Belgian waffle served with Mort Subite Gueuze
The pear was good, the pudding amazing, but I have to say I was properly blown away by the perfect waffle, sitting in white chocolate sauce with ice cream (I was totally full by this point- and ate it anyway).
Staff were really great, attentive, knowledgable, and you did get the feeling not only do they know their stuff, but they are eager to learn more.
One thing I learned- some beers are fermented using coriander! That is a little hidden secret fo those of us that despise that particular herb- and explains why some beers just dont sit right with me- for that gem I will be eternally grateful.
Comment 1 comment on this review
laxdale, 30 June 2011:
Belgo’s - Pics The London Foodie
Just as 17 years ago when I lived in Chalk Farm and first started going to Belgo Noord, today I am still struck by the originality of the ideas introduced by this restaurant to the London food scene. Not only has it made moules frites an affordable and accessible choice, but it has also introduced a vast range of top quality Belgian beers to many Londoners.
Few people were familiar with Belgian food in the UK in the early 90s; dishes like Waterzooi and Beef Carbonnade were relatively unknown, and the concept of partnering food and beer was also novel.
Belgo also introduced us to the concept of “cuisine a la bière” where beer is used as a marinade, sauce or flavouring, and I cannot think of any other type of beer which would be more appropriate to this style of cooking. The meat in “Beef Carbonnade” is braised in sweet Gueuze, a sparkling sour beer, while the slow cooked shank of lamb is served with DeKoninck beer and balsamic jus.
The idea of preparing and cooking mussels can be a frightening prospect, but at £12.95 for a large pot, eating moules frites is no longer a daunting or expensive affair.
Belgo was also one of the first restaurants to open its kitchens to the public, when the concept of “open plan kitchen” was still to be adopted and popularised by other restaurant chains.
The design of its restaurants is as cutting edge as when it first opened. I like the combination of different elements like the exposed bricks against the copper walls, the long canteen style wooden tables and the roughly polished cement floor. These elements come together helping to create a modern and vibrant restaurant.
Dr G and I went to Belgo to try the 2010 Lobsterfest menu which is available throughout the month of June. All the dishes that we ordered, apart from the desserts, were lobster based.
For starter, Dr G had a “Red Thai lobster” @ £8.95 (half a Canadian 1lb lobster baked with a lightly spiced and nutty red Thai curry sauce).
I am not one to mess around with lobster (I prefer mine simply grilled with garlic butter), but I was very impressed by the combination of flavours in this dish - the light Thai curry sauce gave some welcome chilli notes that offset the succulent, perfectly cooked lobster meat .
The half lobster had been beautifully dressed with the intact meat from its claw sitting under the sauce at the top end of the lobster.
I ordered a “Lobster Thermidor” @ £8.95 (half a Canadian 1lb lobster grilled with a light cheese, mustard and Orval beer) – this was again delicious with the creamy, mustard sauce accompanying the sweet meat perfectly.
To accompany our starters we shared a bottle of “Chimay Tripel”
£4.95 and another of “Steenbrugge Blonde” £4.35. These were excellent recommendations by our waitress, as both had a sweet spiciness, and long yeasty finish which stood up well to the Thai red curry.
We also tried the “Lobster Bisque” @ £4.95 – this is one of the cleverest dishes on any menu as little if any lobster meat is actually used for its preparation. I make this whenever we eat lobsters at home. The lobster shells are fried in butter and garlic together with a mixture of onion, celery and carrots. The mixture is then transferred to a saucepan while the frying pan is deglazed with white wine. Lobster stock is then added to the saucepan with some herbs, tomato puree, paprika and cream before sieving the soup.
Belgo’s version was excellent, with a strong lobster flavour, and a richness coming through from the brandy, tomatoes and cream. I could also taste a dash of heat from the paprika which added another layer of complexity to the soup. The bread was deliciously flavoured with caraway seeds.
For the main course, Dr G had a “Grilled whole lobster with frites” @ £17.95. The lobster had been halved and topped with garlic and Pernod butter. The aniseed flavour of the Pernod butter worked well with the sweetness of the lobster meat and garlic; the lobster was sizeable and very good value at £17.95.
I opted for “Whole surf and turf” @ £24.95 – a whole grilled lobster with garlic and Pernod butter served with a 60z sirloin steak and frites. The flavours were distinct and simple but combined very well together.
The double-fried chips were the perfect accompaniment to both dishes – they were very hot and deliciously crispy.
To match our main courses, we had a bottle of blond ale “Tripel Karmeliet”
£4.95 and an amber beer called “Pauwel Kwak” £4.95. These were again recommended by our waitress to accompany the more robust main dishes and I felt they matched our choices well. Dark orange in colour, they both had a good balance of hops and malt, and a sweet, fruity nose.
The dessert menu had quite a few choices varying from £4.75 to £5.25. I ordered a “Hazelnut ice cream with Chantilly and toffee apple sauce” @ £4.75 which had an intense nutty flavour but was light and refreshing.
Dr G opted for “Creme brulee with tuile biscuit” @ £5.50 – the brulee was perfectly set and creamy, and black vanilla seeds were visible in the custard, with a delicious crust of caramelised sugar on top.
The wine list is well thought out and outstanding value with a good spread of choices varying from £14.25 to £24.95. There is only one bottle over £20 in any of the categories (white, red, rose or sparkling).
Cost: this was a complimentary meal but I have quoted prices of all the dishes we tried. I estimate that a 3 course meal during Lobsterfest (starter and main course being lobster) will cost £32 per person or £24 on the standard menu excluding drinks.
Likes: perfectly cooked lobster, great value for money, central location, fine Belgian beers and delicious double fried chips.
Dislikes: due to the low arched ceilings and informal dining style, the restaurant, particularly the Centraal branch, can get noisy.
Verdict: I cannot think of a better venue for top quality, well priced lobster dishes in London today. The whole grilled lobster
£17.95 is comparable to fishmonger prices, and the moules frites £12.95 is also excellent value. A great place to try a large array of Belgian beers in a central location. Very highly recommended.
Got to say i'm not a fan of the workmanlike but unsatisfying Belgo. As a chain, they've certain;y worked out how to roll it out, but it's never been more than acceptable, both in terms of the service and the taste...
Not a great way to celebrate a friend's birthday - waited 1.5 hrs for a lukewarm lobster and chips, and staff to busy to get them to warm it up. Birthday singing with dessert was a nice gesture but did not make up for this poor level of service and shocking output from the kitchen. I was expecting much better after seeing reviews.
Belgos, Covent Garden AKA the beer dungeon. Whenever I'm in central and really stuck for somewhere to eat that sits between getting a Burger King or going to a fancy restaurant I can't afford, then Belgos is the one.
It's pretty much always busy without being overcrowded and the friendly staff manage to maintain a good level of service despite its hectic atmosphere.
Probably best known for their mussels and mahoosive selection of beers (highly recommend the cherry!) the prices are excellent for what is delicious food. They also do a genius beat the clock offer where your meal cost is equal to whatever time you arrived eg. 7pm = £7...basically pretty nifty for skin-flints like myself.
Comment 1 comment on this review
Urbanite, 12 March 2010:
Sheesh they could start a revolution of diners at 5pm with such deals (scratches chin thoughtfully). They must be very popular as friends have tried to book a big table 2 weekends in a row - so heading to the Chalk Farm branch instead. Hope it holds up :)
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